tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC April 28, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
they line the roadway or are lying across the roadway. power lines are down. some of the homes are completely destroyed. >> i am standing in what was the convenience portion of a gas station. absolutely zero roof left. >> the monster tornado spawning storms slammed mississippi, virginia, georgia, alabama and tennessee. the national weather service reports more than 137 tornadoes. and even forecasters joined everybody else, running for cover. >> everything just got dark, and all of a sudden the car started spinning, and we just grabbed hold of the steering wheel and each other. >> the systems moving into the northeast, then forecasters say the latest outbreak will be over. and thousands of americans battered by this month's storms begin to rebuild. >> there will be no quick solution. we're not talking about a matter of hours or a matter of days. we're talking about a matter of months in this recovery effort.
>> nbc's tom trung is in tuscaloosa, alabama, as we speak. give me a sense of how widespread the damage is. >> reporter: well, contessa, it's very hard to describe and put into words. i can probably do it better in pictures here. take a look behind me. this is a half mile away from the university of alabama. this entire block just basically wiped out. there are multiple businesses or were multiple businesses, and just beyond that chevron station, dozens of homes just completely obliterated. we just visited there, we just visited with several people there, and the neighbors tell us that three college students died in what we witnessed there. we went to the scene, we saw that one house was moved from its foundation, moved across the street, and slammed into another house. and apparently that was the house that the three college students were in. three of them died. and tragically right now, we're trying to get in touch with anybody that knows them. but we're unfortunately not able
to do that at this time. we were able to talk to angela smith, a 22-year-old former student of the alabama. she just got married to her husband four days ago. he's a student at the university of alabama. she tells me that during the storm she was huddled in her closet, with her dog. krou crouched in, praying for her life. as that happened, the roof was torn off her house, and when she walked out of her home, luckily she was alive, couldn't describe what she saw. the entire block is gone now, trees on top of homes, roofs torn off. she can't quite describe, but says she is lucky she is able to talk to her husband how, and now trying to pick up the remnants of their lives. we saw a lot of people just going out of their homes at this point, walking out with just duffle bags and their suitcases, trying to retrieve what's left of their homes. it's a tough scene, and a lot of people are asking for a lot of people and prayers. >> thank you very much for joining us. i just wanted to mention, i'm just getting a note in now that
the alabama national guard is going to assist folks in alabama with the power generators. as you might well imagine, there are a lot of power generators, transformers and things like that, that blew power lines down. so electricity is desperately needed in apparently more than 1,000 national guardsmen are now on the ground in alabama where they're going to be able to help out. let me go to bill karins, our meteorologist here. bill, when we're talking about the -- the number of twisters here, i mean, more than 100 twisters, i think it was 137 that the national weather service reports? >> the final report was about 160 reports. >> wow. >> now, one of those tornadoes or many of them may have been on the ground for three straight hours, and so we'll fine-tune it and tell you exactly how many were on the ground and how strong in intensity they were. as we go throughout today, we do not have a tornado threat like yesterday. but it doesn't mean we can't get a couple tornadoes. we've had tornado warnings over the last hour in areas of new jersey. we still have a tornado warning
for northern new jersey, going into southern new york. we have had very strong winds throughout this region, also. but so far, no reports of a tornado. but these thunderstorms are still going to cause a lot of wind damage. they're about to arrive in philadelphia, and they'll arrive in new york city a little later. further to the south, down around washington, d.c., and baltimore, the worst of the storms have now passed to your east. so it looks like you are safe. but areas of maryland and delaware, out over the chesapeake and southern jersey, those storms will bring you some dangerous winds in the hours ahead. and so as far as this storm went, we'll probably end up with wind close to ef-4, which means 160 to 200 miles per hour. it's very rare to get an ef-5, winds over 200. we only get a couple every decade, so we'll wait and see if we've got any of those. this is the one stat that bothers me, contessa. this is the average number of tornadoes we get per year. typically in april, 167. we have quadrupled that. but our biggest tornado months are in may and june. >> so we're looking -- and in terms of breaking records, i
think that the death toll here is just stunning. >> in -- that's what's rare, is that the weather forecasting is better. we can see these -- everyone has iphones, the media -- it was all over the place, you can watch video for hours online. we knew they were coming, but it still didn't make a difference. still this many deaths. and a lot of people -- we haven't had this since 1974. we thought with the new technology we wouldn't get deaths like this anymore. it just proves that even if you get a big enough tornado -- even if you're in our basement or bathtub, you can still get killed, unfortunately. >> thanks. let me bring in the coordinator from the jefferson county alabama emergency management agency. allen, i just mentioned that the national guard is on the ground with power generators. what do you need most at this point? >> right now, we just need a lot of cooperation from the general public, as we clear the area. and get in and assess the damage and try to do our search and rescue. we need to make sure the people stay out of the area, allow our
professional rescuers to get in the area and do their job. we know it's -- a tedious job, they're going door to door to see who is in the area. a lot of impact, maybe 1,000 homes have been damaged in jefferson county, if not more. at this time. and possibly destroyed. we've got a lot of power outages, lines down. alabama power is working very fast and furious to get the power online so we can get the trees out of the way, open up the roadways, so we need a lot of bystanders and onlookers to stay out of the area. >> do you have a handle on how many people might be missing in your county? >> we don't have exactly the number or anything, but we're looking for everybody and anything. you know, we never really know until everybody is there and we get everybody accounted for. again, we're going to be doing door to door search in the area. a lot of times we won't know they're missing, because the whole family may be on vacation. until we find out exactly if
they're there, did they go somewhere, stuff like that. we'll do everything we can to account for everybody there in that area. >> and allen, where were you when the storms hit? >> i was in the oc here, in my office. my son was actually -- he works in tuscaloosa, he was at his golf course, and it went right over his head. >> and did you feel the impact at all in the emergency management center? >> yes, ma'am, we could feel the wind from the storm as it went over the top. in the area, you could actually feel the gust of the wind in our area, and we're underground. >> and what's it look like now when you step outside and you see what's happened to your neighbors, and not just in your town, but in the towns in this county? >> well, i would have to tell you, i haven't been outside in 36 hours. >> wow. >> i've been downstairs, working this job for 36 straight hours. so i haven't stepped outside yet. >> well, listen -- >> my people have reported to me, and i've seen it on tv. it's very hard to look at when you see how much has been impact, knowing the people, what they have suffered, and the amount of damage we have. but as always, our people come
together. we have a lot of people that help each other, neighbor helps a neighbor. and people get together and they come and they'll get over this and come through this. >> allen, 36 hours on the job and counting, i know this is going to be the next few days and weeks and possibly even months, a very hectic, hard job for you. thank you so much for spending a few minutes with us. and i hope that these folks cooperate with you when you tell them they need to stay out of the area until the rescuers have a chance to go through the debris. >> okay. thank you. and thanks the news media for letting everybody know what's going on. water levels now in poplar bluff, missouri have dropped slightly, but the river is still pouring over sections of the levee that protects a town there. about 1,000 homes have already been evacuated. and a federal court hearing is scheduled today over whether the army corps of engineers should be allowed to blow up the levee to protect cairo, illinois from the rising mississippi river. critics say it would flood valuable farm land there. they don't want to do it, and
filed a preemptive lawsuit against it. the birthers are moving the target, you know, so it's not enough that the president releases his long-form birth certificate, proving once again what had already been proven, that he was indeed born in america. no, the birthers say let's change the subject. >> i'd like to know, how does he get into harvard, how does he get into columbia, if he isn't a good student? it's an interesting thing. yes. >> jonathan, msnbc contributor, editorial writer for "the washington post." there were a lot of people who were very upset by the fact that president obama released the long-form document. they were standing by him to say, this is not the document that gets released when people ask for their birth certificate. they get the short form. so why cave to donald trump? >> well, because it's not just donald trump. it's because about 45% of republicans and quite a few independents had questions as to whether president obama was a
natural-born citizen of the united states, which gets to his legitimacy. is he legitimately president of the united states? i think the president -- or as we know from "the washington post" story today, that the president was simply frustrated. frustrated that this was crowding out more serious topics. and frustrated personally by what this -- the conversation in the country was surrounding this section of his citizenship. >> but you write in your column today, "we felt wounded, because in 2011, you can work hard, play by the rules, achieve great things academically and professionally, and still have people look at you as less than. look at you as not deserving the things you worked hard to achieve. look at you as unqualified, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, because you're black. even if you're the leader of the free world." so put that into context of -- now the question is about his transcripts, the fact that you -- you still have
republicans saying, well, i'm not utterly and entirely convinced. >> you know, contessa, that was what was so disappointing. of all the things donald trump has done for the last few weeks, to then shift the goalposts to question the president's academic qualifications. was really insulting. beyond insulting. enraging, actually. and i think the reason why -- and i was writing from a very personal place when i wrote that. and it's something -- it's a feeling and a sentiment that lots of african-americans and also lots of white readers who i've heard from on facebook and twitter, to have the level of conversation descend like this was just -- sort of heart-wrenching. i can't even articulate how painful and wounding what donald trump did to me and to lots of other people who, as i wrote, work hard, play by the rules, do everything they possibly can to achieve the american dream.
and then to have someone who doesn't even measure up to the president of the united states question that man's abilities and his qualifications. >> jonathan capehart, i know that your writing and what you have to say resounds with a lot of people. definitely resonating today. thank you very much. >> thanks, contessa. we're getting a better sense today of the potential impact to the planned shakeup of the president's national security team. a former u.s. official tells nbc news, general david petraeus will likely step up secret missions if confirmed to take over the cia. he'd replace leon panetta, being tapped for the pentagon, where the military is increasingly relying on clandestine operations. mike, is the president likely to address what he expects out of the military? i mean, whether this potential blending of the cia and armed forces could be problematic? >> you know, i don't think we're going to get that level of granularity. this is going to be more or less
a ceremonial appearance in the rose garden in about three hours, contessa, assuming the remnants of that storm that are hitting washington now do clear up. general petraeus, he landed in washington last night. he's expected to be there, as is the current cia director, leon panetta. and you're right. a lot of people are talking about the blurring of the lines, particularly in this nation's largest conflict at the moment in afghanistan. the drone strikes over the border in pakistan, and those tribal areas attacking elements that are known to reside there. there's also a new ambassador coming in, replacing long-time ambassador to afghanistan, carl iken bergey, ryan crocker, leon panetta who told the president on monday he was going to be willing to move over, and take over the defense department. of course, he is the current cia director, and so there's no mistake, certainly, that the intelligence director is becoming the d.o.d. chief, that the military leader on the international forces in afghanistan is moving to the cia. and incidentally, he's going to
be retiring from the military not wearing the uniform while he has that job. but a lot of people are talking about the increased emphasis on intelligence gathering on these so-called paramilitary groups and contractors that are used more and more by the cia. the drone strikes. not to mention, the biggest issue of all, and that is the drawdown of american military forces that is set to begin in july of this year, contessa. >> all right, mike, thank you. up ahead, the space shuttle "endeavour" lifts off for the final time in little more than 24 hours. plus, fashion dos and don'ts for a royal wedding. we'll be right back. ♪ that you really like ♪ can i dress you up in my love ♪ [ male announcer ] looking for a complete picture of your money?
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the royal wedding. prince william and kate middleton have gone through rehearsal after rehearsal to prepare for their actual exchange of vous fewer than 24 hours from now. wedding watchers have been camped out for days, waiting, wanting, to be part of the huge event, and they're not going to let the possibility of bad weather rain on their parade. >> we're all looking forward to this. and bring it on. i don't care. >> i have an umbrella! >> the show will go on. >> nothing will stop this. i've come too far to turn back now. >> whether it's raining, snowing or what, this is an event you do not want to miss. >> nbc's lee cowen is at westminster abbey. tell me about the enthusiasm from the crowd around there, lee. >> well, you can't point a camera at them without them going absolutely crazy. and every time there is something that happens in front of the abbey here, they also all go crazy.
you probably can't see it, contessa, but the red carpet just arrived outside westminster abbey, the carpet that kate middleton will walk across as she makes her way into the abbey tomorrow morning. we did, as you say, saw her early this morning, kate middleton arrived with her family, as well as her bridesmaids, as well as prince harry for a quick run-through rehearsal one last time. probably the last time we'll see kate middleton. in fact, they have installed a big tent outside of the goring hotel that her car will drive directly into tomorrow morning, so there will be absolutely no chance that you're going to get a chance to see that wedding dress until she steps out of the car, and then walks across that red carpet. here at the great north door of westminster abbey, just before 11:00 tomorrow. we're also getting a little bit of a hint here of what the program will be. the palace released the official program of the wedding, and inside it, is a agreeding fr greeting from the royal couple. they say they are moved by all of the affection shown to them since their engagement, and the all-important vows.
the service itself is being described as a thoroughly british, thoroughly anglocan, as well. and she will vow to honor, comfort him, and keep him, in sickness and in health but not obey him. she left out that, as did princess diana, and as did more brides recently. it was expected she would leave that out and she did. the two will kiss, go their separate ways, going against royal tradition, not staying at buckingham palace tonight, she will be spending at the goring hotel with her family. and then prince william, along with prince harry, and prince charles and kamila, the duchess of cornwall, spending their time together with a dinner tonight. so the two won't actually see each other again until they are at separate ends of the very long and ornate aisle at westminster abbey just before 11:00 our time tomorrow morning. >> lee, thank you very much. appreciate that. my question today. who is getting up early or
staying up late to watch the coverage of the royal wedding. really interested in who in the world would get up to watch it live in times square outside, with, you know, i don't know 1,000 of your best friends. share your thoughts on twitter, facebook, e-mail. let me know what your plans are. okay. so there won't be a disco ball at buckingham palace like kate's sister wanted, but no doubt lots of dancing. hopefully prince charles will break out some of his '80s style dance moves. wait until you see this. ♪
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service has received. and these are brand-new pictures, just into us from smithville, mississippi. the death toll regionwide from last night's storms now stands at 213. and we are expecting president obama to speak about the storms and their impact, and what the federal government can do to help the states and the local governments recover. meanwhile, we're still watching for some strong storms making their way through pennsylvania and new jersey. there have been tornado warnings along some of these new jersey towns where you're seeing the radar right now. and newark, jfk and laguardia all have ground stops right now of at least two hours. some of them potentially even more. so if you're traveling in and out of new york city, you're going to see delays, and you're probably going to see delays even if you're not traveling through the metro area, just because of the back-up that creates for the air traffic system elsewhere. the body of a missing mother from portland, maine, has been found in a pond a quarter mile
from her car after she disappeared last weekend. krista dittymeyer's baby daughter was found sleeping in the back seat of a mountain ski resort in conway, new hampshire. officials say she is the victim of a crime, and they're conducting an autopsy today. the baby is now with her mother. still ahead, we are watching for the devastating impact of these deadly tornadoes, as i mentioned, the death toll is climbing. and right now the crews are out doing search and rescue. plus, t-minus 27 hours until finalistoff for the space shulgs "endeavor." today's theme, breaking bad, breaking confidence of their season ticket holders, accidentally releasing personal information for 20,000. we're talking names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses. distributed in a file to clients. and gawker reports, no high rollers or celebrity in there,
just the normal nonpremium seat holders. strike! well, as if the royal wedding is not entertainment enough, now the u.k. is getting its own version of "the jersey shore." it's called "jordy shore." the original "jersey shore" is taping in illustrate. poor europe. and this viral video from the '80s shows prince charles breaking bad or mar accurately, break dancing badly. he is in the middle of a dance circle where someone who can actually dance tries to show him the very beginning moves. you know, and to the prince's credit, he is a good sport. he tries. well, if at first you don't succeed -- maybe he's improved since then. maybe we'll see him beat up the beat tomorrow. [ female announcer ] this is not a prescription. this is stacy. who runs circles around asthma. and dan. he never lets high cholesterol get him too low.
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breaking news in the south. a massive search and rescue effort is going on right now after deadly tornadoes tore across the region. georgia's governor has declared a state of emergency in 16 counties. the weather channel's chris warren has the latest from ring old, georgia. >> yes, just take a look here at the damage this storm did, as it ripped through this small town. this is what is left of a convenience store as part of a gas station here. the roof is completely gone. you have the back wall and one of the side walls and just a portion of the sidewall over here. now, we look over here, you come out, what used to be right in here used to be a wall, a glass wall, walking through a lot of glass right here. and then we look down here. that is where downtown is. ringgold. small town. they won't let us down there. we were down there earlier before it got light out, and they told us to leave. we saw several businesses that were damaged. we went through some residential
areas, but could not see well, because it was dark. we couldn't get a full extent of the damage. however, we understand a middle school and high school were severely damaged, as this storm rolled on through this small town here in north georgia. so even though we're getting later into the day, the extent of this storm is still yet to be seen. contessa, back to you. >> and let's bring in major todd smith, he's the birmingham area commander for the salvation army. it's good to talk to you today. what is job number one for you on this day following the storms? >> well, we're trying to get supplies for the rescue personnel, and right now we still have most of the area locked down. so we're running supplies for them. there are hundreds of rescue workers still going through buildings and debris. so it's to help support that group, and then the second will be to start helping the victims, as we start and continue doing an assessment of the area. >> we're looking at 131 people dead in alabama, at last count. and the mayor of tuscaloosa says
the city's police and other emergency services were just devastated. in what way can the salvation army support them as they try to get back up on their feet and deal with the crisis at hand? >> well, we -- all vehicles except for one were destroyed. so we have a whole new team, support group, that's in there today. so we'll do everything we can, this tornado, of course, has left a path of destruction for many miles. and with that, you know, we're just trying to get enough boots on the ground here to help support all that can be done for those who are victims. >> all right. and i've just received an update now that says the total from this storm is 215 people killed, and that's including other places, mississippi, georgia, the other states that got hit, not just alabama.
>> right. >> todd, let me ask you. where were you last night? what was your experience in these storms? >> well, i was actually at a -- a national conference down in orlando, florida. and i was hearing about the storm coming through, and went ahead and decided to drive, so we drove all night and came back early this morning. throughout the night, i had three crews here in the birmingham area, a crew sent over to tuscaloosa. so we just have a lot more equipment, personnel that we're pulling in right now, to help, again, do the assessment. >> and once you got back to -- once you got back to birmingham, what did you see? >> well, i -- i've been doing this -- disaster for over 30 years. and i've never seen this broad of destruction. you know, the tornadoes have just absolutely destroyed everything in its path. it's either completely destroyed or has damaged beyond being able
to live. it's not a compatible house or apartment building. so it's just -- words can't really describe what's here. >> todd, i'm so sorry that you're dealing with this. i understand that your -- this is sort of the last hurrah for you, because you're moving on to a new job in june. and it looks like every waking hour of the next few days and weeks is going to be tied up in probably what's one of the biggest crises you've ever had to deal with. wish you the best of luck in that. another update now, we're seeing the death toll in alabama rise to 162, that's just in alabama. the total from these storms, this is the new death toll number i'm getting, 249 now killed. and, again, we are expecting the president to address the situation when he comes out and talks to the -- the reporters in the rose garden later. some of the other headlines we're following today. economists are predicting a slow down in economic growth for the first three months of the year. but they say it's just a temporary setback.
more americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. the second increase in three weeks. and now the highest total since late january. at least 14 people were killed when a bomb exploded at a popular cafe in the moroccan city of marakesh. the moroccan government is blaming terrorists. and a new manager at the radar center at the andrews air force base. after last week's incident with the first lady's plane. tonight is the first round of the nfl draft, one of the most searched for topics on google today. the carolina panthers get the first pick. nasa aims to make history tomorrow when the space shuttle "endeavour" lifts off on its final voyage. congresswoman gabby giffords whose astronaut husband mark kelly will command the mission. giffords was shot in the head three months and demonstrateded
a remarkable recovery, as we saw in this video when she climbed the steps of this airplane on her own yesterday. jay, this is an emotional day on so many levels. give me a sense of what you're expecting for tomorrow. >> well, right now, contessa, the countdown is on schedule. this will be the next to last mission, and i've just found out what is happening behind us here, about three miles on the ocean. it's what they call the astronauts' beach house. the families and the astronauts that will fly tomorrow, are together, having a barbecue. that will go on for oh, another 45 minutes or so. and then they'll separate and go their separate ways. i'm also told that congressman giffords did not make the barbecue. it's simply too hot outside for her. but she will be observing the launch tomorrow in a private place with her mother and her nurse. and so right now, this is next to the last shuttle launch. it will be number 134 for the space shuttles.
the final flight is to be made this summer by atlantis. and that will be number 135 for the space shuttles. >> and jay, for you, as well, because you've been there since every shuttle mission from the beginning. what's this like for you personally? >> well, it's getting to be a sad time. on so many fronts. i think the main reason is that once the last shuttle flies, another 128 people will be losing their jobs. and that's sad, because i have a lot of friends that have, you know -- even family and all. so it's a sad time. but yet is still a prideful time for these people who have done a pretty magnificent job here, contessa. >> speaking of doing a magnificent job, as i said, you've seen every shuttle launch, been there from the very beginning, have a book out about it. jay, you are a true veteran of the space industry. thank you so much for your coverage. >> thank you, contessa. thank you. last night, bookies reduced the odds of kate not saying
"obey" in the vows to negative 1500. i've never even heard of such a thing. basically, it means if you bet $150, you'll win $10 if she doesn't say "and obey." it was a pretty sure bet kate would take -- you know, she has taken a page out of princess diana's wedding program. princess diana did not promise to obey. but check out who did. queen elizabeth and her daughter, princess ann. so did sarah ferguson. same for sophie reese jones who married the queen's youngest son, prince edward. royal watcher and nbc contributor neil sean is at westminster abbey with me now. now, neil, if a young modern woman in this day and age vows to obey at her wedding, aren't you skeptical? >> you know, you're my very own princess, as you know, contessa, and i personally feel that it's kind of a break for society, if you like. she has been a very modern girl. and i can tell you that brins william is not too bothered
whether she obeys or not. i mean, the bottom line s it's very old fashioned, quite outdated. and they are a modern couple, the first to live together before marriage, in fact. so they have broken already a few boundaries. >> and besides that, i don't know how modern it is. in 1886, our president, grover cleveland, excluded "obey" from his wedding at the white house. that's almost 200 years ago. 140 years ago. come on. >> it's strange how it came back in fashion, you see. this is the thing, came back in fashion, went out of fashion. it will come back again. >> you think? i'm keeping my fingers crossed. i don't know about that. all right, let's talk about all of the people who are showing up. number one, there's all of the people outside. is anybody dressed up already in the big hats and fancy stuff outside of the abbey? >> well, we have actually had a few people dressed in their wedding attire, definitely, down here. in fact, there's a guy just two blocks down from me who is dressed in full morning suit, making me feel slightly underdressed for you, contessa,
so yes. i think people are getting into the spirit. but as you know, when you go to a wedding, be royal or nonroyal, there are certain things you should or shouldn't do. and the golden rule is, you can't really upstage the bride. bit of gossip, though. chelsy davy apparently has two outfits, one for the day, one for the evening bash. and i think that's wrong. she should just be in the one dress, because she could be kind of trying to upstage her, don't you think? >> no, because i think that's the modern thing now. all of the brides have -- i didn't. but other people, they have mega parties afterwards. they've got 15 different clothes changes. you know, there's a picture of elizabeth hurly. we have her in white. now, she apparently at one point did wear white to a wedding. is that still a no-no? >> well, particularly here in britain. definitely. because, you know, that is the bride's purgative. i think if you did that, you would definitely be looking to upstage. and i think it's cruel, because if you're a micro celebrity like elizabeth hurly and turn up to a noncelebrity's wedding, you know
the focus will be on you. is so she will be dressing down, possibly wearing a hat not covering your face, not like alexis kerrington colby, wearing a veil, mysterious. you want to keep the face clear so you can see what's going on. and, of course, really, the focus just should be solely on the bride looking beautiful. >> you know, that's so hard for the rest of the women who are accustomed to grabbing some of the attention themselves. but on this day, when the princess is getting married, you know, end, maybe not that formal title, but still, you know -- she -- the chances that anyone is going to upstage her are slim to i would say none. neil, thank you. >> a real pleasure. take care. the president releasing an official copy of his birth certificate, hoping to put the issue to rest. now, how is it that some republicans are still questioning whether obama is indeed a citizen? plus, the royal wedding is royally expensive. reportedly up to 30 million bucks. but you know what? it's okay.
the royal family can afford it. come on back, ahead. ♪ i want the to be rich ♪ [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible.
i'm andrea mitchell. coming up next on "andrea mitchell reports," a death toll of 240 people. we'll talk to emergency management teams in alabama, and the photographer who caught dramatic images of the terrifying tornado bearing down on tuscaloosa. plus, the national security shakeup. the former u.s. ambassador to iraq, chris hill. and the fallout continues over the president's decision to take on the birthers. we'll see you in 15 minutes on "andrea mitchell reports." breaking news now. we have just learned president obama is planning to visit alabama tomorrow, where the latest death toll in that state alone from the twitter stands at 162. the homeland security secretary, janet napolitano, spoke with the
president this morning, as well as the fema administrator, craig fewgate to talk about the trauma they are seeing. we're expected to hear from the president this afternoon in the rose garden. we'll keep our eye on that. for two-and-a-half years, birthers insisted if the president would only release his long-form birth certificate, all of the questions would end. well, he did. and some are still questioning. here's arizona state senator steve smith on "hardball" last night. >> what are your doubts? >> i think if i could put it at an equation, i would say there is still a good 10, 20% chance. if it were this transparent, don't you think it would have been released two years ago? >> tony cats is a tea party activist and radio talk show host. i'm curious for you to weigh in on this. what do you think about the whole controversy? >> which part of the controversy? the fact that it took the man three years or the fact that people don't trust him? >> the lingering questions about whether he was actually born in
the united states. >> i think that the truth is, obama brought these questions upon himself. there is a great article in pajamasmedia.com from richard fernandez which is the probably that people don't trust obama, and it's that lack of trust that leads people to look at the birth certificate that was released and still question its veracity and its validity. obama created the issue. he created the lack of trust. >> tell me how can you put that on obama? he had had -- the short form birth certificate, the one that hawaii always officially releases when a birth certificate is requested has been out there for ages. reporters have seen it, they have vetted it. it has been a fact, as long as -- >> but contessa, he has spent millions of dollars hiding the birth certificate and other things. >> where are you getting that? where are you getting that? >> i'm a tea party guy, i am not a birther. he shows the birth certificate, i move on from that and move on to the rest of the failed policies, which is the story. >> no, no, you just said he spent millions hiding. where are you --
>> go take the search. he has spent unbelievable amounts of money to hide who he is and what's happening. he has fought the legal challenges when he could have fixed this. there is a lieutenant colonel, i believe, who sits in jail, because he wouldn't follow orders until he had proof, and here goes president obama on oprah laughing about it. this is not a laughing matter. this is obama failing to do his job. >> a lot of people are saying it's not a laughing matter. they say that there are questions about him, not because there really are questions about where he is born, but because he is black. meanwhile, we have let donald trump put this back on the front burner. you know what, here's trump yesterday. how much reliability does this guy have? let me play what he said yesterday, about the possibility of running in 2012. let me play it. >> excuse me, cnn did a poll -- cnn did a poll recently, where obama and i are statistically tied. >> okay. you know what cnn says?
cnn's polling unit says it never even polled on that question. never asked it. where is he getting that? >> take trump up -- take trump up, contessa, on that issue. but this whole idea of race, you know what, if there are birthers and they're all crazy and silly for actually wanting to see a birth certificate, let's talk about the racers, the people who believe that everything is a conspiracy about race. it's obama's race that people want to see the birth certificate, it's obama's race that people don't like the out of control spending. it's not his race. it's that he's awful. the policies are terrible. obama care is a lie and a failure. qe-1 and qe-2 didn't work. it's crazy. >> there are people who have the exact same stand when george w. bush was president, said the exact same words you're saying about president bush. and they never demand -- wait, and they never demanded to see a birth certificate. >> they didn't say it was race. everything this comes out of the racers, and they exist -- the "washington post" "new york
times" "huffington post" and you know i enjoy having these conversations with you. it's not about race. when we talk about obama and the policies, it's about the awful policies. it's about the inability to bring down debt, the inability to tackle the deficit. and when everybody says, oh, they're just after this because of race, it is a nonsense. it's a way to stop people from having conversation. political correctness at its worst. if we want to talk about the issues, let's talk about the issues. if the birthers want to continue -- >> that's right. well, the birthers have been not focusing on policy. they haven't been focusing on the nation's economy. what they have been focused on is that long-form birth certificate, and even when it's released, they still maintain the 10 to 20% doubt. it just seems odd. but you're right. >> let's see in a week or two what they think. >> so now the next time we talk, tony, let's talk about policy, okay? >> i would -- i would love that. >> we'll be right back. this is the aarp...
theresa writes, i watched diana get married also, and i'm certainly not going to miss wills. leslie says, my mom let me miss school, and the two of us sat up watching the entire wedding festivities. i wouldn't miss this for the world. but clinton hancock protests. are you kidding? i barely woke up in time for my own wedding. oh, clinton. i'm contessa brewer. thank you for watching today. appreciate it. up next -- yeah, right, there's the ways you can get ahold of me, facebook, twitter, e-mail. you know the drill. >> we know where to find you, thank you so much. up next, historic deadly tornadoes tearing across five states, killing more than 240
people. plus, with president obama expected to announce a new national security team, and by the way, he's going to alabama, we'll talk about the challenges ahead with former ambassador to iraq, christopher hill. and countdown to a wedding. speculation spinning out of control over that dress. financial times fashion editor vanessa friedman up with us, and "andrea mitchell reports" next right here on msnbc. [ beep ] [ beep ] [ beep ] ♪ [ beep ] [ male announcer ] find an italian masterpiece in your grocer's freezer. buitoni shrimp and lobster ravioli with garlic butter sauce. simple ingredients, artfully prepared. winner of 2011 product of the year. buitoni. create an italian masterpiece. on display in the freezer section. i know what works differently than many other allergy medications. omnaris.
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i got it. >> never seen nothing like it. i've never seen trees five foot through, just be pulled up by the roots and pulled and just take light poles down. i've never seen that. >> tornado tragedy. as of this hour, 249 people are dead across five states. a catastrophic tornado outbreak through the south, heading toward the mid